On Monday, as expected, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) announced in Austin that he plans to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the state's border with Mexico, to be a "force multiplier" for Operation Strong Safety, a state operation Perry initiated last month that includes sending state troopers to the border to help local law enforcement deal with an influx of Central American children and families in recent months. Processing and housing the children and teenagers has tied up U.S. Border Patrol agents.
The deployment of National Guard troops will cost an estimated $12 million a month, on top of the $1.3 million Texas is already spending on its state operation each week. Perry didn't say how he planned to pay for that, though state officials at his press conference said they'll ask the federal government to pick up the bill.
It's also not clear what exactly the 1,000 National Guard troops will do in the Rio Grande Valley. "If we were asked to, we could detain people," Texas Adjutant Gen. John Nichols said at Perry's briefing. "But we're not planning on that. We're planning on referring and deterring." A Texas National Guard spokeswoman later added that the guard forces "will not exceed their authorities," and will be operating under the "umbrella" of the state police.
State and local law enforcement can't detain people based solely on their immigration status, but they can tell the Border Patrol about people they suspect are in the U.S. illegally.
The Obama White House says it is open to deploying National Guard troops for humanitarian purposes as part of the president's $3.7 billion border package proposal. But it doesn't seem too excited about the idea as a standalone plan and suggested that Perry is motivated by political concerns at least as much as public safety. Perry, widely expected to run for president again in 2016, spent last weekend in Iowa, his fourth visit to the first-presidential-contest state in eight months. Here's an excerpt from Perry's announcement:
And below is a brief analysis from The Wall Street Journal. --Peter Weber